The sun had not yet risen by the time Mary and Sean left the Keflavík terminal building. Low scudding clouds, driven by a brisk wind, were broken by patches of clear sky. Dozens of newly arrived passengers scurried to the buses which were waiting to take them to the capital city. It was cold, but not freezing.
“Looks like it’s going to be a beautiful day!” said Sean. “Smell that fresh air!”
“Is it always this windy?” said Mary, somewhat dubiously.
“It can get worse,” said Sean, just before a gust of wind blew his hat off.
Mary laughed: “Instant Karma. Com’on, the bus is waiting.”
The trip into Reykjavík triggered emotions in Sean. He experienced a sense of pleasant anticipation when he thought about meeting his son. He was glad that the same anxiety he had felt when he had last been here—when he was searching for Billy—had not reappeared. Mary’s senses were all on high alert. The rugged landscape, with its otherworldly aspect, made quite an impression on her, but what really intrigued her was the flood of new ‘internal information’ she was receiving.
“This place is alive with… with… spirits,” she said, “Or whatever they are.”
“The hidden folk,” Sean said, smiling.
“We’ll see about that,” said Mary, “I’m not the person who should be saying this, but seeing is believing.”
As they neared Reykjavík the traffic got heavier, until they found themselves in the Icelandic equivalent of a traffic jam.
“Almost like I-5 in Seattle,” said Mary, “What time is our check in?”
“Officially, three P.M. but the unit wasn’t occupied last night so we can check-in at any time. We were lucky to get this place on such short notice,” Sean said, “It’s right in the center of town.”
The place they would be staying in was built in the style of a faux ‘castle.’ Sean remembered seeing it on his last trip and thought that it would be far enough from the last place he stayed—both geographically and aesthetically—to avoid triggering any bad associations with Billy. It was tucked away behind Fríkirkjan, the corrugated iron church which faced the pond.
“We’re going to meet with your son and his mother tomorrow, right?” asked Mary.
“Tomorrow, 10 A.M.,” said Sean, “Vilhjálmur Stefán and his mother Þora. Are you comfortable with the idea of coming along?”
“I wouldn’t miss it for the world,” Mary said, “If what Emily said was right, Vilhjálmur is already in possession of some of his ‘powers’, although I wonder what control a toddler would have over them. Þora must have her hands full.”
“She hinted at that in her email,” Sean said, “I hope we can be some help to her.”
When they got to the BSÍ bus terminal in Reykjavík they had to transfer to a smaller bus for the short trip to the apartment. When they arrived they were buzzed into a foyer where they found their keys waiting. The studio that Sean had rented was equipped with a kitchen and the refrigerator in it was stocked with food for breakfast. Although she was wary of the cod liver pâté, Mary approved of the skyr. After they had eaten, Sean suggested a trip to the neighborhood pool to alleviate their jet-lag symptoms, as well as getting a chance to stretch their legs.
“It’s a good place to meet the locals,” said Sean, “I’d like to get your impressions of them, there’s usually quite a mix in the hot-pots. Of course, you might have some interesting conversations of your own in the women’s shower.”
“I’ve always thought that he best way to air your differences is to get naked,” said Mary, “Although my complexion might be a complication.”
“There aren’t a lot of black people in Iceland, but there are some. More now. From what I know, most Icelanders are pretty tolerant. There could always be a bad egg, I suppose. The pool is near the University district, I would imagine that the mix of people there is more international.”
The walk to the pool was pleasant. The wind had relented and the low angle of the sun over the city gave things a golden glow. The cemetery on the hill above the pond was especially dramatic.
“Let’s walk through there,” said Mary, “I want to get away from the cars.”
Sean thought about the last time he was here, with Billy, on the day he died. He shook off the reverie and turned his attention to Mary, who was visibly enthralled by everything around her. Once inside the cemetery’s walls, the traffic noise from the busy Hringbraut highway was greatly diminished. Birds were flying among the trees and there was even a rough-looking orange tomcat prowling the paths between the family plots.
“Are you picking up any interesting ‘vibes’?” asked Sean.
“Nothing that stands out,” said Mary, “Although there is some sort of a current, almost like a complex musical chord. It underlies everything here, I would like to come back here and meditate on it, to see how far into it I could go. It’s fantastic.”
“How about that cat?” quipped Sean.
“That cat only speaks Icelandic,” said Mary, deadpanning. She paused for a moment and then said: “You were here with Billy, weren’t you?”
“Yes, this was one of the places we were. Here, over there, at Perlan, and my apartment, which was just up the street, a little ways from here,” said Sean, “He was well known around town, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone still recognized me as him, although I would think that everybody knows the story by now.”
When they got to the pool, Mary held Sean back as he was about to enter the bath house.
“Put your ring on,” she said, and they went in.